It’s Trigger Time!

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I went to the doctor again this morning. I pretty much live there now. If they would just let me post up in the corner on a cot it would be a whole lot easier.

Everything looks great today. Lots of mature follicles! Also of note, my uterine lining was 10mm thick. It has never been 10mm in my life. When I first started going to the fertility specialist, he told me that my uterine lining was so thin that I would not be able to sustain a pregnancy even if I miraculously got pregnant on my own. It was 4mm back in those days. They assign a grade to your lining at each ultrasound. It always bothered me that I got terrible grades. I felt like I was getting a bad report card on something I had no control over. It was just one more blow to remind me that my body was quite literally failing me every step of the way. Well, not anymore. Today this girl got an A. I wonder if Wendy’s still gives out frosties for good report cards. Anyone know?

Because of all of this great news, I can stop taking the injections (Alllllllelluia!!!) and take the trigger shot tonight at 7:30p.m. The trigger shot causes your body to ovulate exactly 36 hours after it is given. Just in case you’re as terrible at math as I am, that means ovulation will occur at 7:30 Sunday morning when the doctor will put me under anesthesia and go in to surgically remove the eggs.

My estrogen level was 2478 today, which is in an OK range. They still believe I have at least a 35% chance of developing OHSS after retrieval though, which would prevent transfer. When they aspirate the follicles to remove the eggs, the sacs will fill up with all the fluid in my body. For this reason, they want me to drink strictly Gatorade and V8 and eat anything and everything salty from this point forward. The salt will soak up some of the fluid in my body and prevent it from entering the sacs.

It has been a difficult road, but I actually can’t believe we’re already here. By this time Sunday we will have little embryos growing in a lab. That’s pretty crazy to wrap my head around. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for all of your prayers. We couldn’t have gotten this far without each and every one of you. Please keep them coming and have a wonderful weekend!

And Then There Were 32

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Yep, you read that right. The ultrasound this morning revealed that 10 additional follicles have developed since yesterday. This mama hen is now growing 32 eggs in her big ole belly. Almost 3 dozen.  I’m still trying to let that one sink in. For those who are interested, the updated follicle sizes are as follows:

Right Ovary: 15, 14, 13, 13, 11, 11, 11, 11, 10, 10, 9, 8, 8, 8, 8, 7, 7

Left Ovary: 13, 12, 12, 11, 11, 11, 10, 9, 9, 9, 8, 8, 8, 7, 7

I think it’s safe to say things are moving along quite nicely. Blood work revealed that my luteinizing hormone (LH) has started to surge, which means my body is trying to ovulate. We don’t want that to happen until the doctor is ready to go in for retrieval, so I am adding in another injection tonight called Ganirelix, which will prevent ovulation.

The blood work also revealed that my estrogen level is rising very quickly. It was 38 last Thursday, 761 yesterday and 1095 today. This is a little bit concerning. If it keeps rising this quickly, we are going to be entertaining the possibility of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). I have already dealt with OHSS once before, so I am worried I will develop it again.

If my estrogen rises to 4,000 my doctor will not be able to transfer the embryos back into me right away. He will have to freeze the embryos and wait for my levels to come down then do a frozen embryo transfer cycle. While it wouldn’t be the end of the world, it would be pretty devastating after all of this. That being said, if my estrogen peaks in the 3000s, it wouldn’t be dangerous to proceed but would be INCREDIBLY uncomfortable for several weeks. The doctor said he would leave it up to me at that point whether I could endure the discomfort or would prefer to freeze the embryos and wait a few months. If that is the case, I will absolutely, without a doubt, power through. I am willing to do just about anything to make this a reality as long as it doesn’t pose any harm to me or my future children.

Hopefully I just gave you all of those scenarios for no reason and we can keep my estrogen level below 3,000. Only time will tell. The nurse said we are still in an OK range and it isn’t time to worry yet. I guess I’ll have to work on that.

My mind was going in a million different directions this morning playing out every possible scenario. Then I opened up my e-mail. A few months back I signed up for e-mails from Joel Osteen. Sometimes the daily message is so fitting that I just can’t believe it. Today it said, “There is no obstacle that can stop you. There is no disadvantage that can hold you back! You’re in the palm of God’s hand, and He has equipped and empowered you for everything. When God is on your side, He sets the right people in your path. In fact, He’s already released favor into your future. He’s planning for you to come into new seasons of increase. He has a plan for victory. Let that sink into your heart today. Begin to expect His favor. Expect him to work in your life. Focus on the fact that God has equipped you. He has anointed you. Your best days are still out in front of you! If God is for you, no one case rise against you! Meditate on this promise so you can walk in the favor and victory God has in store for you!”

Wow! Is that on point or what? That was exactly what I needed to hear today. God has equipped me with 32 eggs, the ability to explore this option and a brilliant doctor to lead the way. He has empowered me with everything I need and no obstacle can get in my way. Not even a scary estrogen level. I need to expect His favor so I can walk in the victory He has in store for me.

Thank you to everyone who has prayed, called, texted, messaged, or reached out in some way throughout this journey. If you’re praying for us, please pray that this estrogen level stays below 3,000. When you go through hard times, one of the single most comforting things in the world is the knowledge that people are praying for you. People are taking a moment out of their busy day to focus their energy and their prayers on you. That’s huge! There’s no way I could ever accurately convey my gratitude to each of you.

I return to the doctor tomorrow morning for another ultrasound and more blood work. They will retrieve the eggs as soon as the lead follicle gets between 18 and 20mm. It is currently at 15. It looks like retrieval will probably occur Sunday or Monday. I’ll keep y’all posted. Now back to growing these eggs… 🙂

The Lucille Ball of Fertility Injections

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Last night was the big night…the night I had to give myself the first set of stimulation injections. It played out like an episode of I Love Lucy. Math and science were my worst subjects in school, so I am a little challenged when it comes to mixing up solutions and injecting them into myself.

I sat down with all of my supplies and 2 pages of typed instructions and tried my best to follow along. I worked with all the concentration of a high school senior taking a standardized test but just couldn’t seem to get it right. When I combined the two vials of Menopur, I was supposed to end up with 1mL. I drew the syringe back and only got 0.8mL. Then, when I combined the Menopur and Follistim, I was supposed to end up with 1.2mL but ended up with 1mL instead.

I was frantically reading the instructions and facetiming my husband to see where I went wrong. I was visiting my mom’s house during this entire ordeal. That’s when her dog decided it would be a good time to get busy with my small dog. He was wrestling her on the floor and she was howling like a wolf. Not to be outdone, my 70 pound Lab decided to flip her water bowl up in the air with her nose and covered the entire floor in about a gallon of water. I put down the shot supplies and went to fetch some paper towels to clean up the mess. As soon as I stood up, I slipped on the water and went flying across the kitchen on my booty.

All I could do was laugh at that point. I tried to draw up the shot again and still ended up a little short on the amount. I had no choice but to give myself the shot, but I continued to stress for about an hour. What if I did it wrong? What if this messes everything up? What if I have done everything right to get to this point only to jeopardize it all over 0.2mL of missing fluid? This is such a high stress process that you have this overwhelming burden of screwing it all up every step along the way.

Just then, Aimee from the Maybe Baby blog texted me to see how I was doing.  I had a little bit of a meltdown on her and she reassured me that it’s very common for Menopur to draw up a little short. Phew! She really saved the day! Aimee and I found each other through our blogs and recently exchanged numbers. We are on the same day of our IVF cycles and thought it would be neat to compare notes as we went along. Ironically she texted me at the exact moment I needed to talk to someone who understood what I was going through.

I have a great family. The problem is, they just can’t relate sometimes. Luckily, I have built a strong network of incredible women with similar journeys throughout this process. It’s absolutely crazy how immediately you can connect with a complete stranger because they are going through the same thing. God puts the right people in your life at the exact moment you need them, and that’s just one more thing to be thankful for! I hope you all have a wonderful holiday weekend. This is the only kind of cocktail I’ll be mixing up:

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Wish me better luck on my second attempt tonight! 🙂

You Gotta Have Faith

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“In this world you will have trouble. Take heart; I have overcome the world.”

This was part of the reading at Mass today and it really spoke to me and gave me a renewed sense of faith. I felt inspired to pass it along in hopes that it might help someone else.

I am a chronic worrier. I tend to plan every aspect of my life. That worked out pretty well for me up until this whole infertility thing shook my world. When I was younger, I often heard adults say, “When you make a plan, God laughs.” I feel like I finally understand what they were talking about.

It’s so hard when things don’t go according to our plan. I read somewhere that the thing that messes us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it’s all supposed to be. When I think back on some of the things I wanted and the plans I had for myself 5 or 10 years ago, it’s plain to see that God knew better than I did. No matter how many times I’ve learned that lesson, though, it’s something that I have to remind myself of daily.

I’m not going to lie. It makes me angry sometimes when people hear about my experiences and reply with the all too cliche, “Well Katie, everything happens for a reason.” I usually just smile politely and change the topic, but I often wonder what the reason could be. Maybe this is God’s way of teaching me patience or God’s way of teaching me to trust in His plan.

The truth of the matter is, we don’t always know why bad things happen. Sometimes the reasons become clear down the line and sometimes they don’t. All we can do for now is trust and have faith that the plan God has for us is way better than any plan we could ever have for ourselves. No problem is too big for God and there’s no prayer He can’t answer. In this world we will have trouble, but take heart. He has overcome the world.

Sham-Wow

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I just have a quick little update today. As I wrote yesterday, my lips started tingling and feeling a little bit numb about an hour after I took the Lupron shot. As the day progressed the numbness got worse and my hands started to feel numb too. The worst part was that my legs suddenly started itching to the point that it felt like fire ants were crawling on me. The doctor said I was having an allergic reaction to the Lupron and needed to stop taking it immediately. He switched me to the Ganirelix protocol. Ganirelix prevents premature ovulation just like Lupron, but you don’t start taking it until you begin to produce eggs. Luckily this wasn’t too big of a snafu and it won’t change the timing or anything else. Thank goodness!

The tingling and numbness finally stopped, but my legs continued to itch mercilessly. I had promised to help my little cousin do her makeup for prom, and I was determined to be a woman of my word. When I got to her house I was running around like I had ants in my pants. She had the brilliant idea of putting Chilly Pads (used by runners behind their neck) over my legs and I got immediate relief. A-lle-luia! I’m pretty sure her date’s family thought I was a weirdo, because I was essentially walking around covered in giant shammies. The moral of the story is: don’t be afraid to get creative when it comes to home remedies. You just never know what might work. 🙂

A Lesson in Perspective

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Today I needed a little perspective and God gave it to me. I woke up and emptied out the box of needles and medications that were delivered last week. I’m scheduled to start my injections tomorrow, so I began to dissect the contents of the box. I couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for myself. The idea of all of these needles going into my poor little tummy over the course of the next 3 weeks overwhelmed me. Luckily, I’ve never had a fear of needles. I’m not sure anyone could go through this process if they did. The sheer volume of the needles staring me in the face was enough to scare off even the bravest patient, though. What worried me even more was the list of potential side effects that accompanied each of these meds.

Once again I started questioning and wondering why this was my path. Why do I have to put my body through so much just for a chance at pregnancy? It just doesn’t seem fair. I headed to my doctor’s appointment with a little bit of a chip on my shoulder. The purpose of today’s appointment was to get a baseline ultrasound and blood work to make sure all systems are a go to start the injections.

I went to the lab to have my blood drawn then proceeded to the ultrasound room. I’ve had more ultrasounds than Michelle Duggar at this point so I have a pretty good idea of what I’m looking at on the screen. Everything looked great when the tech measured my uterine lining and examined my left ovary, but as soon as my right ovary came on the screen, my heart sank. There it was…another giant cyst. I was somewhat surprised because I had a 3D ultrasound last week and everything looked great. I had a sneaking suspicion something may be wrong, though, because I haven’t been feeling well the past few days.

The ultrasound tech told me that because of the cyst, there was a strong possibility the doctor would not allow me to continue with IVF at this time. Not this again. You’ve gotta be kidding me! The nurse and doctor said that all we could do was wait until the blood work came back. If the cyst was producing a significant amount of hormones, the cycle would be cancelled and I would be put back on birth control until we could get the level down.

Just this morning I was cringing at the idea of injecting so much medicine into my body. Now I felt like I would give anything for the chance to start this cycle. Sometimes we get so bogged down in negativity and self pity that we lose perspective.

I left the office praying that things would turn out ok, especially since I had a very expensive box of medicine at home that couldn’t be returned and would soon expire. To my surprise I got a phone call from the doctor about 30 minutes later. He said that the blood work looked great and I could start my injections tomorrow. Alleluia! Now I’m actually excited to start the shots!

I can say with absolute certainty that this journey has been the biggest roller coaster ride of my life, and the ups and downs continue daily. You never know whether you will get news that puts you on top of the world or down in the dumps. The thing I have taken away, though, is that the valleys make the peaks that much sweeter. If you find yourself needing a little attitude adjustment today, I invite you to listen to my late father’s favorite song. It’s a good reminder set to a catchy tune. 

Accentuate the positive, y’all! Thanks for the prayers. Let’s get this party started!

P.S. I’m not sure why the only version of this song I could find online was from the Mighty Ducks soundtrack but c’est la vie. 🙂

Perception vs. Reality

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Some days I think I’m doing fine until I open Facebook. The news feed reads like a who’s who of America’s Most Fertile. On any given day my eyes fall victim to 3-4 pregnancy announcements, a gender reveal video, a baby shower photo album and one or two birth announcements. It can leave me feeling like I’m on the wrong side of an episode of Oprah’s Favorite Things. Everyone gets a baby! Everyone that is, except me.

It’s not that I’m not happy for my friends. I’m genuinely thrilled for them. The tough part, though, is that it can be a painful reminder of my own infertility. It can make me question God and doubt myself. Why can’t I get pregnant? Did I do something horribly wrong to be so undeserving? Why is God blessing everyone else?

Something I have learned through this journey is that things aren’t always as they seem. A friend recently revealed that she was “Eggspecting” on Easter. I couldn’t help but feel a little jealous that she didn’t know the pain of infertility. Come to find out, she had several miscarriages prior to this pregnancy, and she lives in constant fear that history will repeat itself.

Another friend appears to live the carefree life of a jet-setter. It seems that at least once a month she and her husband are setting off to quaint islands around the world. Little did I know, they want nothing more than to stay home and raise a little one. Unfortunately, her husband suffers from male factor infertility and babies may not be in their future at all.

Still others tell me that I have no idea how lucky I am. They don’t even know if they have fertility problems because they haven’t found the right person yet. They struggle every time they open Facebook too. Their hearts sink because their news feeds are filled with engagement announcements, wedding albums and various other photos of couples living out their happily married days.

The point is, we’re all struggling with something. Everyone we meet is fighting some kind of battle. No matter how picture perfect another person’s life appears, I can assure you that it isn’t. We could all benefit from having a little more patience with each other.

I read somewhere that the reason we struggle is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlights reel. Try to remember that next time you compare yourself to the girl who appears to have it all.